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I work for a small company (less than 10 employees) in the Software Engineering field in Sri Lanka. We have a policy that all our outgoing Emails must be BCC'ed to ceo_bcc@example.com.

I feel like this is too much and it is frustrating. I think some employees are leaving company because of these type of strict policies.

Is it normal behavior of all companies? How do I discuss this thing with CEO, without his thinking I am overstepping my position?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Masked Man Jun 21 '18 at 3:29
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The particular solution this company is implementing is unorthodox, but you usually can not expect that your company email account is a private medium.

When you are using a company mailserver, then all mails you send and receive will be stored on it in clear text. That means if management feels that they need to read your work email, then it is usually possible for them to do that. A more savvy mailserver administrator would be able to silently forward all emails to that ceo_bcc mailbox automatically without requiring any actions from the end-user.

Having the end-users do this manually instead of implementing an automatic solution is dangerous, though. People will forget that from time to time. If the intention behind this policy are benevolent, then it might result in the management not being aware of something they should be, leading to wrong decisions being made. If the intention is malevolent, then non-BCCed mails could be used as a pretext to sanction someone.

So what do you discuss with the CEO? Tell them to ask the IT department to set up an automatic forwarding rule so you no longer need to do this manually.

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    Are you sure that "but you usually can not expect that your company email account is a private medium" is true in Sri Lanka? I know your assumption would be false where I work and from what I have read here you'd be right in the US. I personally don't have a clue about Sri Lanka. – DonFusili Jun 19 '18 at 13:00
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    @DonFusili The legal situation in Sri Lanka would be a topic for law.stackexchange.com. – Philipp Jun 19 '18 at 13:12
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    I agree, but I take it this means you also don't know if the base of your answer is applicable? – DonFusili Jun 19 '18 at 13:14
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    @DonFusili I based my answer on what's technically possible. And when something is technically possible, you can not expect legal barriers to be a failsafe protection. The employer might not be aware of the laws, aware but willing to take the penalty, or know a loophole which allows them to skirt the law. Still, if someone knows the applicable data protection laws from Sri Lanka and how they work out in practice, I would be happy to mention them in this answer. But if you really want to know, you should ask on law.SE. – Philipp Jun 19 '18 at 14:05
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    That means if management feels that they need to read your work email, then it is usually possible for them to do that. Just to point out an exception: Possible is not the same as legal. Unless the employee is hired to represent the company, in Belgium there is reasonable privacy on all communication, including mails sent via the work address. This means that you can't read it without the employee's consent, the court's permission, or reasonable justification that the employee will damage the company in a shorter timeframe than a court can grant an explicit permission. – Flater Jun 20 '18 at 6:36
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I feel like this is too much and it frustrating. I think some employers are leaving company because of these type of strict policies.

Is it normal behavior of all companies? How do I discuss this thing with CEO, without he thinking I am involving company policies?

This isn't something I've heard before. Still, every company has quirks that some find frustrating.

It's hard to believe that people would leave just because they are asked to BCC all their outgoing emails. I suppose it's possible, but usually there are a bunch of reasons leading up to a decision to leave.

You could talk with the CEO and calmly indicate that you think this requirement is excessive. You might ask why the CEO feels this is necessary, so you can learn the thinking from their point of view. Unless you know for a fact this an actual reason that some folks have left, I wouldn't bring it up.

Be prepared if the CEO hears what you have to say but indicates that you are required to do it anyway.

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    Could be an audit requirement but the CEO is just not technically proficient. If the mail servers are in house or company mail servers, you can mention to the CEO that it is already "stored" for his viewing and no bcc'ing is necessary. He may also want to invest in commercial monitoring systems for each of his workstations if he is interested in accountability. – Dan Jun 19 '18 at 13:34
  • “It’s hard to believe that people would leave just because they are asked to BCC all their outgoing emails.” Not to me. It’s a stupid policy that would both make me question WTH corporate leadership is doing, and it does so in a flagrant, obvious way that imposes costs on the employees, aggravating my feelings about it. Use a very short script to do this, if you really must. That being said, if it’s the only thing wrong, I’m looking slowly and selectively, but I’m still looking. Of course, this kind of stupidity is usually just the tip of the iceberg, rather than a weird, lonely outlier. – HopelessN00b Jun 19 '18 at 22:30
  • @Dan you are making an (unfounded) assumption, that CEO does not already monitor email server history. It is one thing to silently eavesdrop on everyone's emails, but if he makes it into corporate policy, CEO can openly use the acquired knowledge, — even if nobody actually BCC'ed him (by claiming, that some of participants did). – user1643723 Jun 20 '18 at 16:43
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You mention "outgoing" emails so I am going to assume that means emails to people outside of your company such as clients.

You also specify that the BCC address is ceo_bcc@example.com so this tells me that this is an unmonitored mailbox.

Based on my observations above the CEO is probably trying to achieve a few things:

  1. Get company employees to actually craft their emails and be respectful when communicating with people that affect the company's bottom-line.

    • In general, people act better when they think someone is watching.
  2. Stay involved in the day-to-day information of the company as it runs in real time.

    • Maybe the CEO has his secretary write up a daily report of any important conversations.
  3. Prevent a situation where something is called into question and have a readily available paper trail.

    • No more of "Oh, I can't find that email" or "I never got that!"

While I do understand that in a proper work environment the system administrator should be able to BCC the CEO automatically, I am led to believe that #1 could be the leading cause of this policy.

It is also possible that the company does not have administrative access to the email server such as when a hosting provider gives free accounts and everyone logs in via web browser.

It boils down to:

If you are in a position to speak on behalf of the company then the company needs to know what it said.

  • It could also be a legal requirement - while silently watching/reading mails of employees might be punishable, willingly forwarding all mails to your supervisor is no surveillance, but a willingly act. – Falco Jun 20 '18 at 12:18
  • @Falco I don't think it can be considered willingly if it's a requirement. – user87779 Jun 20 '18 at 14:24
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How big is the company you work for?

In the relatively small company I currently work for, the project manager (who is a director in the company) has us CC him when we email the customer as he is involved very closely in many discussions and is daily queried by the customer C-level execs on any and all projects we are working on for them.

It could be that your CEO is in the same boat and needs to know what his team is doing in order to stay on top of customer queries.

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    we are also small company. 10 < Staff – I am the Most Stupid Person Jun 19 '18 at 12:11
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    Yeah, so it looks like the CEO wants to know what his team are saying to customers so that when the customer starts asking questions it won't look like he doesn't know what's happening in his company. It's a pretty basic management practice. – user1666620 Jun 19 '18 at 12:15
  • @Iamthemoststupidperson that’s a detail that makes a big difference and belongs in the question. – HopelessN00b Jun 20 '18 at 4:24
  • "has us CC him": CC is very different from BCC. As a receiver I would be very surprised (not in the good way) to find that someone else has been BCC. This look very unprofessional to me. – agemO Jun 20 '18 at 9:31
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Is it normal behavior of all companies? How do I discuss this thing with CEO, without he thinking I am involving company policies?

No, but you either abide by company policies or get sacked/leave. Unless you are in a position to change policy there isn't much point in getting upset over something that small. In theory if it's a company email they can do whatever they want including forwarding copies of all your mail to the CEO without you even knowing if they have it set up like that..

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    they can do whatever they want: That definitely depends on the laws of the country you work in (but I know nothing about Sri Lanka's privacy laws). – sloth Jun 19 '18 at 12:56
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    Or you refuse and let them deal with it. That's what I do with idiotic policies. If they have a problem with it, I'll start emailing one of the dozen recruiters who emailed in the last 2 weeks. – Gabe Sechan Jun 19 '18 at 18:45
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    @GabeSechan preferrably with BCC to the CEO... :) – Alexander Kosubek Jun 20 '18 at 13:58
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I feel like this is too much and it is frustrating. I think some employees are leaving company because of these type of strict policies.

Sorry but mind your own business. People leaving or joining company for whatever reasons is not your headache. If your CEO requires you to BCC him/her on each email that you send from company account then do just that, your boss decides what jobs you get.

If I were you i would go to my boss and ask him in an informal way to have the Email admin set it up in a way that each email is automatically sent to him as bcc every time its sent. And if he asks why I would tell him i tend to forget sometimes and I don't want to inadvertently break any rules.

This way the boss gets what he wants and employees get what they want, they don't have the inconvenience of remembering to bcc him every time and they can just focus on the content of the email.

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Tomorrow if you join a new company, and your Senior / Mentor asks you to BCC him on all your outgoing emails, so he can monitor and guide you where required, would you still complain? So what's different here? Bigger companies have the liberty to hire auditors, email etiquette trainers etc. etc., while the CEO wants to do it himself, this being a smaller company. Chill, he's the CEO, he's micromanaging, so he could ensure quality and provide feedback where applicable. This is not only saving his job but yours too. - My Opinion.

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